Bjorn Yang Vaernet examines which players on the waiver wire are worth prioritizing for Week 3 and highlights others to preemptively stash.
It feels like every single lead RB is going down with an injury of late. Week 1 featured Austin Ekeler, Aaron Jones, and Kenneth Gainwell. The biggest name out of Week 2 is of course Nick Chubb, who suffered a nasty knee injury on the Monday night primetime game. Saquon Barkley (sprained ankle), David Montgomery (quad), and Jamaal Williams (hamstring) were the other lead RBs to leave with injuries that could extend multiple weeks.
While these are devastating injuries for the players (as humans) and for teams, they also mean opportunities for fantasy managers. One interesting dynamic is that there were so many RBs and WRs to consider last week that some managers may not have much free agent acquisition budget left to spend. How to play the RB injury situations and more below!
The waiver wire is one of the most important pieces of season-long draft leagues. It is the easiest way to acquire new players and every year there are gems to be found. The goal of this article will not only be to highlight which weekly breakout players to prioritize but find others to preemptively pick up before the breakout happens.
This article will only reference players that are less than 50% owned in ESPN leagues. The players are categorized by position group and within each group is the order of how I would prioritize them.
Baker Mayfield (Available in 90% of ESPN leagues)
Baker Mayfield is a surprisingly good QB streamer for Week 3. Through two weeks of the NFL season, Mayfield has had a safe floor, scoring between 15 and 20 fantasy points in each game. He’s done it in several ways too. In Week 1, his scoring was supported by two TDs, and in Week 2, he threw for 300 yards, but only one TD. In a game where both the yards and TDs come together, he could be a top-12 QB for the week.
That week could be next week against the Philadelphia Eagles. The Eagles are an exploitable matchup because they have an explosive offense to push the game environment and a weak secondary (due to injuries). Both Mac Jones and Kirk Cousins were able to throw for more than 315 yards and three or more TDs in Weeks 1 and 2. In both games, the Patriots and Vikings were chasing the Eagles in the second half. There is a good chance that a similar game flow unfolds for Tampa Bay in Week 3.
The strength of schedule streaming app ranks this matchup as the fifth-best for QBs in Week 3.
Jerome Ford (Available in 91% of ESPN leagues)
Chubb suffered a massive knee injury on Monday Night Football and was quickly ruled out of the game. Cleveland did not need to run any tests to know that Chubb would be lost for the season.
The next man up for Cleveland is Jerome Ford, a second-year player who hardly played at all in his rookie season. Ford flashed his upside in the three quarters he played as the primary RB. He had a long 69-yard carry where he was just barely caught from behind and even earned four targets. He could have had an even bigger night if he hadn’t subbed out after his long run. Pierre Strong came in and subsequently punched in the TD on his second try.
JEROME FORD REVERSES FIELD FOR THE 69-YARD RUN 🔥
— NFL (@NFL) September 19, 2023
Ford has several positives going for him including playing behind an elite offensive line and having the coach’s trust in the pass game. He also doesn’t have any looming backfield competition. Yes, Leonard Fournette or Kareem Hunt could sign in the coming days, but they could have also been signed at any point in the offseason while Ford was injured with a hamstring injury. Ford appears to have a floor of Chubb-like usage if a veteran signs, or three-down usage if the Browns decide to roll with just him and Strong.
Ford is my top waiver wire pickup for this week.